“Can I pick up your foot?” “What?” “Can I pick up your foot?” “Why do you want to pick up my foot?” This was the confusing conversation we had as I was waking up after passing out for the first time ever.
My training plan called for a 10 mile run today. And, as usual, I’d much prefer dirt and trails to hard, hot pavement. I also knew it might be a few degrees cooler getting up near the hills rather than to run in town. See, it’s an unusually hot week this week and the daily highs are expected to be near or more than 110 degrees.
I made a plan to run my cross bajada 11 mile route at 6am. There’s over 1000 feet of climbing in the first 5 or so miles, so it’s a steady grind on the way up. Then the trail gets rocky and technical as it rolls across the bajada and turns back to a smooth, wide dirt road all the way back down. Though I had planned to go solo, as I’d done a number times before, my running buddy Gary decided he’d join me.
We met at 5:45am and drove out to the start of the route. “What’s your PR for this route?” he asked. “2:14,” I said. “Are you going to beat that today?” he replied. I told him maybe, not wanting to sound anything more or less than open-minded. You never know which runner you will show up as on any given day. Sometimes you feel unmotivated to run but end up running your best and other times you are psyched and get out there only to find your legs under full protest.
We set out just after 6am running at a pretty good pace. The interspersed walk breaks were short, and about 4-5 minutes apart. For some reason, it always takes me about 2-3 miles to get fully warmed up and able to hold a steady run. This route’s climb and Gary’s pace made that even longer. He quickly pulled away. I briefly caught him just before mile 4 but he pulled away again.
I was working hard and my stomach was not. Hard to say if it was the belly full of oatmeal or the full water bottle I downed before the start, but my stomach was not very happy. I kept sipping my water hoping that would help, but it didn’t.
I always love the technical part of the trail but this time it was difficult. I was breathing hard and my gut was wrenched, like someone punched me. I took way more walk breaks than I would have liked to but kept it up. The smooth downhill was a welcome but brief relief and with about a mile to go, Gary, who had turned up a side road for extra miles, passed me and yelled, “PR baby!” I knew I was making good time and it would be close but I was really beginning to struggle. I just focused on making nearby milestones and soon the car was in sight.
I finished in 2:18. Not a PR but a good time, nonetheless. You’d think that your body would breathe a sigh of relief not to be running anymore, only I now was having a hard time catching my breath. I walked around for about 3-4 minutes and started feeling even worse. I took a sip of my protein drink (always bring those for after long runs) and it didn’t sit well. Then my head started really spinning and I felt nauseous. “I REALLY don’t feel well,” I told Gary. So, I sat down on the ledge of the back seat of the car. My head started tingling. I almost told him I feel like I’m gonna pass out. But, I didn’t want to sound melodramatic and really didn’t believe it would happen.
Next thing I knew, he was asking me if he should pick up my feet. I couldn’t understand why he would ask that since I was sitting in the car. I opened my eyes and found myself sitting on the dirt! “How did I get here?” I asked, confused. “You just slumped down and slid out of the car. Did you hear me ask if you were still with me?” Gary asked. “Um…no?” I replied. I guess he asked me a couple times. It really was a strange feeling–just like I went to sleep for a few minutes and woke up.
I laid down in the backseat and put my feet up on the headrest. Immediately, I felt so much better.
So, was it because I:
- ran too hard?
- ran too fast?
- ran on a full belly?
- ran when it was too hot?
- got dehydrated?
I’ll probably never know, but chalk that one up to yet another new experience.
PS. This might explain it. Also read that your blood pressure can drop after intense exercise. The two might be related.
When people are involved in high intensity exercise over at least several minutes, they require a LOT of blood flow to the working muscles. So the blood vessels in our muscles, especially the legs, dilate to accommodate all this increased blood. Now, our body depends on contraction of our leg muscles to push blood from the legs back up to the heart. During intense exercise our ability to maintain adequate blood pressure depends on this pumping of blood back to our heart by our legs. If you suddenly stop running, the blood return from your legs to your heart suddenly drops and so you don’t have enough blood to pump to your brain–plop, down you go.